Living in a plastic World: Do We Need a Revolution?

This event was created and geared towards starting a conversation about the problems created by plastic. The University of Leeds in conjunction with Leeds University Union have pledged to become single use plastic free by 2023. Therefore, this event was set to be a conversation starter that could gather students’ views on the matter of plastic especially in their daily live and on campus.

The event kicked of with an award-winning documentary film: A Plastic Ocean. This film delved into the consequences of our over-use and overproduction of plastic. It covered the environmental impact as well as the health and social implications of our consumption of plastic.

Key Points:

  • The relevancy of plastic in our lives and whether it would be possible to cut it out completely
  • We discussed various alternatives to single use plastic and how you as an individual can make a change.
  • The issues of microfibres and using science to tackle the issues of plastics were also discussed in this segment.
  • Simple and actionable steps to help you on your way reduce your plastic consumption.
  • Ways to gain more information about the plastic waste issues.
  • Ways to make a difference in your local community and university campus.

The panel

The wonderful panel consisted of 6 students all from different backgrounds. They were all chosen due to their diverse interests in the realm of environmental issues to further diversify the responses and feedback through our discussion.

Giulia – A postgraduate student in the School of Earth and Environment studying Sustainability & Business and a Student Rep.

Mary – A Biology Postgraduate Student interested in reducing plastic waste in the Laboratories on Campus

Maddie – Postgraduate Student in School of Earth and Environment studying Sustainability and Business. Member of People & Planet Society.

Charlie – Postgraduate Student in the School of Earth and Environment studying Environment & Development. Runs a Plastic Free online supermarket called Life Before Plastik.

David – A Postgraduate Student studying Climate Change & Environmental Policy in the school of Earth and Environment. He is also a Student Sustainability Architect for Plastics, helping the university work towards the #2023 plastic free pledge.

The panel was hosted by Lulu Kariba the Student Sustainability Architect for Student Citizenship.  

You can find the podcast and show notes of this event below.

Transcript PDF

Sustainability Internships 2019/20 Open Now!

Are you excited about trying out new ideas and making a positive difference? Would you like to join a dynamic and committed team and gain valuable experience, by supporting projects which drive sustainability within the University and the wider community?

We are looking for two student interns to join our team in September 2019, supporting our work in delivering key projects to embed sustainability across the University. This is a unique opportunity to work within a large institution at an exciting time of change, where sustainability plays a key strategic role. For example, we have recently launched major Institutional projects such as #2023PlasticFree which will require collaboration across the University and beyond. You will gain insights into how to implement and embed sustainability into a complex institution, develop contacts throughout the University and have an opportunity to influence change on many levels.

Want to know more about our internship opportunity? Below is more info from our current interns; Rosie and Caitlin.

Rosie – Sustainability Engagement Intern

I’ve spent the last 8 months getting involved with many different aspects of Sustainability across the University; from the #2023PlasticFree pledge to student citizenship programmes. One of my focuses this year was on the Sustainability and Community Newsletters, I helped the team move to a new system and worked to improve the readership of the newsletters. I was also given the chance to develop my own project and created “Colour Hyde Park” – Community Mural Project. This was the perfect chance for me to develop my project management skills and creativity whilst giving back to the community and supporting local artists. I’ve also had opportunities to work with other stakeholders like local councillors and other Universities, including UCL. This internship is flexible and there are always opportunities to jump into. Recently I’ve been given the responsibility of creating a slide deck about the SDGs that will be shown at a global campus security network meeting!

Caitlin – Sustainability Intern

This internship has taught me a lot for future jobs; having never worked in an office before this was a great stepping stone from University to work life. My main focus this year has been the staff engagement scheme, Blueprint, giving me a “behind the scenes” view of how the University is run. Blueprint has also helped me see real, measurable change on campus and as an intern it’s great to make an impact! Another responsibility of mine is organising the Sustainability Awards. Having ownership of such a big project provides a huge learning curve for my organisation skills and creativity! Within the team there’s a strong attitude towards constant learning and improvement, giving me many chances to do extra training such as Equality courses and Excel workbooks. The whole team is friendly and happy to help with any queries, however small and silly (how does the printer work..?).

This year we are recruiting two Sustainability Interns from our undergraduate community to join the team for 11 months and support projects that deliver the University’s ambitious Sustainability Strategy. Our Interns will be proactive and creative in supporting key areas of focus such as staff and student engagement, plastic-free initiatives, event coordination, and embedding sustainability into the University curriculum. It’s a great opportunity to be working on sustainability in a large, complex organisation at an exciting time for significant change and influence.

Apply now! https://jobs.leeds.ac.uk/Vacancy.aspx?ref=FDSUS1017  

Deadline: 28th May 2019

Sustainability Awards Photography Competition!

On Wednesday 12th June the University of Leeds will be holding our Sustainability Awards. This is a very exciting and prestigious event where the University showcases all of the great work being done to support our sustainability journey. The event is attended by the Vice-Chancellor, Deans and Heads of School and Services as well as countless other staff, students and external partners.

The event itself is well presented, with beautiful awards, table decorations (made by the children of the campus nursery, Bright Beginnings) and first-class vegan catering. With all of this effort going into the event, we want to ensure the photography properly captures the prestige and importance we place on it whilst also harnessing the talent we already have on campus in our student body.

To do this, we are looking for someone who can capture the evening through photography, including posed photos of award winners and natural shots of the evening itself. The material produced will be used as a keepsake for award winners as well as a wonderful reminder of the event on our website and social media communications.

To enter for the chance to photograph the event, and to win £100 worth of kit or a voucher of your choice, please send up to 6 photos of your own previous work at similar events to sustainability@leeds.ac.uk.

The deadline for all submissions is midnight 19th May. For any further questions please email c.m.fox@leeds.ac.uk.

E-Bikes – Available Now!

Commuting by bike? Thinking about it? Why not try an electric bike?

Mike Howroyd, from the Sustainability Services, faces a challenging commute from Holmfirth, which is 25 miles away from the University campus! He has explored all public transport options but the distance, cost and childcare duties made this unsuitable so he has spent the last 9 years commuting to the University by car.   

Last year Mike wanted to make a change to his usual habits as he explains: “three of my friends were diagnosed with cancer, which prompted me to look at my exercise habits and encouraged me to take better care of my health.” 25 miles is too far on a conventional bike and Mike discovered one of his colleagues was selling their electric bike, so he started thinking about leaving the car at home. “It was mostly a question of health: I wanted to get more exercise but didn’t want it eating into family time, so using my commute to be more active just made sense.” Having never commuted to work on a bike due to distance he wanted a realistic goal for himself, so committed to cycling in for 2 days a week.

 

Mike started riding in Staff Healthy Week 2018 “ It was hard work at first, but as I got fitter, I used  the electric assistance less and less.” Mike explains how the technology has improved in recent years and he notices a considerable difference from the older e-bikes he’s tried in the past “the electric assistance mimics the rider’s natural effort and pedalling motion, so it doesn’t feel that different from a conventional bike. It gives you just the right amount of help, especially for the last few miles.”

Mike was initially concerned about traffic and cycling provisions on the roads so went to his colleagues at the University Bike Hub, who helped him find a suitable route and kitted him out with lights and protective clothing. “My confidence quickly grew by cycling on the roads, I don’t take risks and I’m happy to get off and cross on foot when required.” Mike also visits the team of mechanics and volunteers down at the Hub who help him maintain his e-bike.

Although Mike cycles a little less during winter, he concludes: “The benefits of riding an electric bike are obvious: I am less dependent on traffic or fuel prices, I am getting some fresh air, so my well-being has improved, and most importantly, I am healthier than I was.”

 

Mike would encourage others to think about using an electric bike or even give it a go! Members of staff can hire e-bikes from the Bike Hub for just £20 a month to discover the benefits for themselves. The four e-bikes were purchased last year after the University received funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. This was part of the Gold Standard Bike Friendly Business accreditation, which the University received in 2017, for the initiatives and support it provides to help staff cycle to work.

For more information on e-bikes, please visit the Bike Hub (between Roger Stevens and EC Stoner, open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 12 noon and 16:00), or email transport@leeds.ac.uk.

Student Sustainability Architects Update

This year’s Student Sustainability Architects are all well underway with their projects. Find out what they’ve been up to below:

Katy

Hi, I’m Katy, the Student Sustainability Architect for the Catering Service, and I’m delivering a project aimed at reducing staff and student meat consumption in the Refectory. I’m now five months into my role and am loving it! For a number of years I’ve had a personal interest in how individual food choices can have an impact on the environment, so being able to run a project so focussed around something I am passionate about is great. So far I’ve undertaken some surveys looking at the staff/student view of the current meat-free meals in the Refectory, finding that while Refectory does provide many meat-free options, there are a number of ways we can increase the number of customers who choose these options. I have drafted a communications plan and I am in the process of delivering a social media campaign aimed at meeting this goal. Hopefully, by the end of my term, more customers will be aware of, and will choose the meat-free options when eating in the Refectory!

Lulu

It seems not too long ago I started my work as the Student Citizenship sustainability architect.  In the beginning, the areas I wanted to explore revolved around getting students to engage with sustainability in a way they may not have previously. This still holds true today, but I have found my ideas have narrowed down. So far, my projects are evolving steadily and will hopefully make a positive impact on campus and in the local area.

The process has been fulfilling, challenging and enjoyable.  In the coming weeks, I am working on opening a discussion on the issues of plastic consumption. This event will be part of the Sustainability Conference Fringe events. I hope this event will facilitate discussions towards our interactions with consumption and the road towards being single-use plastic free by 2023.  Other projects planned this year will include tackling consumption in clothing and promoting a clean local environment through cleanups. The main plan is to enable students’ engagement and citizenship towards sustainability in their daily lives and the local community. I look forward to planning and implementing these projects as they continue.

Nicola

Hi Everyone. I’m Nicola, a final year PhD student studying Bioenergy in the School of Chemical and Process Engineering. This year I have been working as one of the Student Sustainability Architects where I am working to reduce waste in the University Halls of Residence.

So far I have helped to re-establish food waste recycling in flats at Devonshire Hall. Food waste that is collected is taken to an anaerobic digestion plant in Wakefield where it is used to produce bioenergy to power local homes and businesses. Approximately two-thirds of flats have chosen to have a food waste recycling bin put in their flat and we have already seen an increase in the amount of food waste collected.

I am also working with students to help reduce the amount of waste produced. This includes encouraging everyone to recycle as much as possible, donate spare belongings and look in charity shops for things that you need rather than buying everything new – this also saves you a lot of money! On the 30th September, The British Heart Foundation will be coming to campus (outside the Union building) to hold a pop-up shop where you can grab a bargain and buy all those things you may have forgotten to bring to university. Please come along!

If you live off campus and are not sure about what can be recycled in your area take a look at the Leeds City Council Page here – there is probably more than you thought!

Dave

Hello, I’m David and I have been working on the new SINGLE OUT pledge by the university to phase out single-use plastic by 2023. This is a huge task as plastic is used almost everywhere and so initially my main aim has been to work out what and where single-use plastic is used on campus. We have three areas that we are focusing on; labs, catering and offices. We have gathered feedback from students and staff across the campus and the information we have collated is being used to help determine what solutions can be implemented. To further develop our knowledge of what single-use plastic the university uses, we are also working with the catering service and purchasing department. We have already begun to collaborate with some labs and services on reducing single-use plastic including plastic audits in offices, reducing water bottles at careers fairs and spreading best practice in labs.

Any comments or ideas please let me know by emailing d.burt@leeds.ac.uk

Chloe

My name is Chloe, and I am looking at the biodiversity of the university residences as part of my student sustainability architect project. This has involved me walking around surveying each of the halls of residence, particularly the larger ones like Lupton and Devonshire Halls. I have been identifying the different plant species and their distribution and categorising them in order to input the data on the University’s Biodiversity Tool. This calculates a biodiversity value for each of the sites, so if any improvements are made or the site undergoes development, it can ensure that the biodiversity is either maintained or improved by comparing the values. An example of this is the areas around Lyddon and Charles Morris Halls, which I surveyed in November, and will re-survey once the current landscaping works are complete, in order to quantify the improvements.

Next, I hope to create a Biodiversity Action Plan for each of the sites, in order to work out what can be done to maximise the benefit the plants will have on other species and on staff and students.

Sophie

I’m the Student Sustainability Architect working on the Living Lab this year. I identified key areas to be targeted in order to encourage greater engagement with and participation in Living Labs projects across the University, including the website, the curriculum, the Student Sustainability Conference and producing video content. There have been some really exciting Living Lab projects with a wide range of students and staff involved. I want to highlight these projects and people further in order to celebrate what has been achieved so far and inspire people with knowledge about the kinds of things possible.

We’re updating the website with a more user-friendly layout as well as producing some new content. I developed some resources (inspired by the University of Edinburgh’s Living Lab “toolkit”) to help with the planning, writing and completion phase of a Living Lab project. I’m also in the process of conducting interviews with students, academic staff and operations/professional staff who’ve been involved with the Living Lab and these are forming the basis of case studies. It’s been really interesting gaining such in-depth and personal insights; for instance, I spoke to Dr Chris Hassall (School of Biology) about his work developing the Roger Stevens pond, which was fascinating! My work on the curriculum was largely focused on module mapping in order to identify which ones constituted Living Lab modules and to highlight those that have potential through work placements or research projects. The next step is to develop some engaging video content that can be used on the website and at events!

#ArchitectsofPossibility

 

 

 

“Colour Hyde Park” – Design Competition!

Looking for an opportunity to show your talent?

Wanting to develop your creativity and artistic skills?

APPLY NOW for our “Colour Hyde Park” – Mural Design Competition!

The University of Leeds is calling on all budding artists, students, schools and community groups to submit designs for our “Colour Hyde Park” – Community Mural Project

Our project aims to improve the visual appearance of the area and celebrate the spirit and diversity of the community through the creation of multiple artistic murals around Hyde Park.

We are working with multiple organisations in the area to ensure our project reflects and celebrates the community of Hyde Park. We will be going out into Hyde Park with Leeds City Council, local artists and our student volunteers to improve the visual appearance of Hyde Park.

We want YOU to join us!

The competition is open for EVERYONE to join in and submit designs! Chosen artists will paint their design in Hyde Park with our support. 

Successful applicants will receive a £100 Fred Aldous voucher and support from a local mural artist throughout the process!

We are looking for mural designs that reflect the Hyde Park community and why it’s a great place to live, work and study. We welcome designs from individuals or community groups; such as voluntary and residents groups, schools and religious centres.

This project gives you the opportunity to show your talent to the world and bring pride to the community of Hyde Park!

DEADLINE – 17:00 18th March 2019

 

Here are some other examples of street art around Leeds to use as inspiration! 

Ursula with support from Leeds City Council. Mike Winnard as part of East Street Arts “A City Less Grey” project. Modes of Expression’s Mural in Armley Modes of Expression’s mural in Hunslet

10 Sustainable New Year Resolutions

1)           Join the University in cutting plastic!

We’ve picked our favourite plastic-free tips below to help cut your plastic footprint and support the University’s pledge “Single Out: #2023PlasticFree”

1) Explore your local markets and supermarkets to find loose unpackaged veg!

2) Grab yourself a bamboo toothbrush – millions of plastic ones end up in waste every year!

3) Pop your homemade lunch in a reusable tupperware container and ditch those single use plastic sandwich bags!

 

2)            Buy Fairtrade

Why not try and buy at least one regular purchase from a more local and/or ethical source? This could be from an ethical market or local independent shop such as a bakery. Looking for an ethical phone? Try Fairphone, a modular device built from ethically-sourced materials!

 

3)            Active Travel

Active travel is a great way to lower your carbon footprint and support your health and wellbeing. View our blog post for some inspiration from Sarah Dennis, who often runs to work with her daughter Bethany in the pram! Why not try changing one journey a week to a form of active travel? This can be walking, cycling or running! Not sure where to change or shower on campus? Check out our Sustainability Campus Map for locations of showers and lockers.

 

4)            Mindfulness (yoga or headspace)

Lotus Position

Try to give yourself time with your thoughts every day. Yoga and meditation are great ways to clear your head of nasty thoughts. Try keeping a thought journal and writing all thoughts down. If they are written on paper you can allow yourself to forget about them, this particularly helps when struggling to sleep.

 

5)            Leeds Bins app

Why not download the Leeds Bins App? It takes just 2 minutes and tells you everything you need to know about recycling, bin days and more!

 

6)            Meat free Mondays

Veganuary can be quite intense for many people so why not try setting yourself a lower target? Meat Free Mondays are a great way to cut your meat intake and carbon footprint! If you’re already veggie, try milk-free Mondays?

 

7)            Increase knowledge

You may be someone who thinks they already know everything Sustainability or you may be someone completely new to the topic! Either way, there is always new knowledge to learn! Staff members, why not have a go at our staff training module to learn more? (Visit “Teach”, “Organisations” and finally “Sustainability in Practice”). Students, why not explore sustainability in a discovery module?

 

8)            Share knowledge

It seems these days like Sustainability is everywhere; on the news, TV and social media. But we can all do our part to teach others about the Sustainability challenges the world is facing. Why not challenge yourself this year to teach one person a day something new about Sustainability?

 

9)            Volunteering

As well as parks, Leeds has some great urban green walks and nature reserves to explore. We also have a large number of outdoor societies you can join. The LUU Conservation Society has weekly events where you can explore areas in Leeds and help manage and conserve them.

 

10)          Buying fewer clothes online (and in general!)

Buying clothes online can lead to large amounts plastic bags and plenty of greenhouses gases from transport. Why not explore more of your local charity shops for clothes? Reusing clothes rather than constantly buying new ones is a great way to cut down your carbon emissions – plus you just find that killer bargain!

 

 

Good luck and enjoy making 2019 your most sustainable year so far!

 

New Year’s Resolution – Active Travel

Why not make Sustainable Travel one of your New Year’s Resolutions?

In autumn last year, Sarah Dennis, from the School of Earth and Environment, completed 1 year of run commuting to the University. This isn’t the usual run commute though because she brings her daughter along with her in the pram!

Her daughter, Bethany, attends the Bright Beginnings nursery located on campus, and when Sarah’s eldest child moved from the nursery to attend school, she took the opportunity to change her commute to become more sustainable.

Sarah was also looking to complete regular exercise but didn’t want it eating into her family life; therefore using her commute to exercise was the perfect solution. Sarah’s commute is 5km from Meanwood into the University campus and so far she has ran over 300km in 12 months from commuting!

Sarah explained how she was not an experienced runner beforehand “I’d ran the odd 10k but nothing serious. Running to work improved my overall fitness and led to me running a half marathon earlier this year, something I’d always wanted to do but couldn’t find time to train.” She also discussed the benefits around health and wellbeing “it’s been fantastic for my mental wellbeing, I can’t think about work when I’m running so it completely clears my head after a busy day at University”.

Like other people at the University Sarah was tired of sitting in congested traffic during her commute to campus and was concerned about the increasing air pollution around Leeds. One of the University’s Living Lab projects has been looking into the levels of air pollution on campus and in the city, ahead of the Clean Air Zone coming into force, for more information on this project click here.

Sarah’s advice for people thinking about commuting in this way “find a suitable route that is not too busy with pedestrians and make sure you have the right pram, with a locking front wheel, though you don’t have to spend loads of money on a running pram as I bought mine second hand for £20. A bike light or two have proved very useful as well”. It has been a huge learning experience for Sarah and something she has been able to share with her daughter “Bethany often shouts at passes by or tells me to run faster. I’ve also been able to teach her about nature and the changing seasons on the way as well seeing some incredible sunrises”.

Sarah takes advantage of the facilities on campus to promote active travel by using the showers provided in her department and leaving towels, spare clothes etc. on campus. Check out our interactive campus map to find were your nearest showers, secure storage sheds and maintenance facilities are located.

If you would like to speak to Sarah about her run commute and gain some advice on completing a similar journey, please get in touch via the Sustainability email address.

Leeds School Governor Stories

One year on from the  University of Leeds launching its School Governors Programme we have met staff and alumni to hear their school governor stories.  We learned that no two school governors are the same but what unites them is their passion and desire to make a difference to children’s education and give them the best possible opportunities in life.  Read on to find out what governance means to each volunteer and why we are calling on more staff and alumni to become a school governor. Start your school Governor story today!

“I’ve been a school governor in Leeds for over five years. I’m Chair of Sphere Federation – a group of three primary schools in north Leeds. My motivation for being a governor was simple – I wanted to invest my time in supporting the learning and development of children; for them to have the best education possible, and to leave primary school as healthy individuals with happy memories and a wealth of learning experiences. As Executive Director of a national charity based here at the University of Leeds, whose aim is to advance the education of young people in mathematics, I understand how important good governance is to the success of an organisation. What I hadn’t anticipated was how rewarding being a governor is, and how much it has helped my own professional development.”

Rachel Greenhalgh, UK Mathematics Trust

“I have a strong interest in student education and I have increasingly felt the need for closer collaboration between schools and universities; therefore I am committed to invest my time on a new journey. The Governor position offers me an opportunity to help with improving schools. I believe that my professional qualities, international experience and my understanding of the school system through my child’s education place me in a unique position to offer new ideas and different perspectives to Leeds City Academy Local Accountability Board. The governor position would also help me better understand what is delivered in schools and take this knowledge back to the university to help improve our offering of support to students making the transition to the university and their skill development for future career and personal development.”

Professor Annie Wei, LUBS

“I became a governor back in January 2014.  I wanted to do something that developed my skills and gave me experience at a more strategic level, and I value contributing to the community.  I was placed as a Local Authority governor with a local primary school and was then later co-opted to remain on the governing body when the roles changed. I now chair one of the committees, and although I still feel as though I’ve lots to learn (the education landscape keeps changing!). I have since changed jobs, and my experience on the governing body certainly contributed to that achievement.  In terms of personal life, it’s made me happier: I’m proud to help my community, I enjoy the work involved, and I feel a part of something important.”

Deborah Berman, Leeds Alumna

I have two children at primary school, now in Year 2 and Year 5, and they both love school. I wanted to give something back to the school and help it to be a brilliant, nurturing, supportive place for our kids to be happy and learn loads on the way. I was keen to serve the wider community in an environment where children from all backgrounds are valued. Many staff at the university have experience of curriculum development, interviewing prospective staff, managing budgets, monitoring student progress, giving strategic direction. We’re used to both providing and receiving constructive criticism, challenging ourselves and others within an encouraging and supportive environment, reflecting on our own and others’ practice, and asking pertinent questions – skills that are important for any school governor. Skills and insight that we take for granted, are really valuable to our local schools.”

Darren C Greenwood, School of Medicine.

“My background is in teaching and worked for many years in the School of Education, University of Leeds. I have been a governor at Bankside Primary, Harehills, for 10 years. It has kept me in touch with schools and education which have been my life’s work. It was a chance to give something back. The fact that the school was in a disadvantaged part of Leeds was further motivation, as I am committed to trying to help more children from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed and to progress.There is a considerable need for governors in Leeds particularly in the inner city. Your work input is appreciated by school staff. You have the chance to meet pupils and talk with them. This opportunity is likely to extend your knowledge and experience of the community in which you live and work. Don’t hesitate to get involved.”

Paul Sharp, Educational Engagement.

“I became a school Governor because I wanted to make sure that my school has effective leadership to thrive and give every student the opportunity for achieving their potential.”

Majid Khan, Facilities Directorate

Staff and Alumni interested in becoming School Governors can register with our charity partner Governors for Schools here. Someone from the charity will be in touch about next steps with being matched with a school.  Good luck!

Christmas Shutdown

On Christmas Day 2017 the University campus alone used enough electricity to cook 15,004 turkeys – that’s almost 2 for each staff member!

As a University, we have a responsibility to lower our carbon emissions and the Christmas Shutdown period gives us the perfect chance to demonstrate our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment. This year, the Christmas shutdown period runs from Friday 21st December 2018 to Tuesday 2nd January 2019, a full 11 days! By remembering to switch off all lighting and non-essential equipment over this period we can make a collective difference and also raise awareness of the need to cut carbon.

On Christmas Day last year, we managed to save 83,853kWh more energy than we did on the  25th in the previous year. Although we did save this extra energy, we still managed to use 305,649 kWh which is enough energy to drive around Britain’s coastline 244 times in a Tesla!

This is what you can do to help:

Before you leave for the Christmas break, check all lighting and IT equipment is turned off, including screens and projectors; and ensure that all non-essential lab and research equipment is turned off.

We will tell you how we did in the New Year!

Happy Holidays from the Energy Team and Sustainability Services